Government announces National Cyber Force for digital defence


Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday  the UK's new National Cyber Force (NCF), which will counter threats from hostile nations by targeting them digitally. E5-2620 v3

There is little information available about NCF's activities so far, but it is believed that the new unit will be comprised of government white hat hackers, trained to launch cyber attacks against terrorists, criminals and hostile states. Their main responsibility will be to disrupt online communications of groups who are thought to pose a threat to national security.

NCF spies will be expert in disrupting servers being used by hostile nations, blocking terrorists' phone signals, and hacking enemy weapons systems. The unit will also help to prevent the internet being used as a platform for crimes, such as the sexual exploitation of children.

and the Ministry of Defence (MoD) will control NCF, which is set to grow to 3,000 employees within the next decade.

"Working in close partnership with law enforcement and international partners, the National Cyber Force operates in a legal, ethical and proportionate way to help defend the nation and counter the full range of national security threats," said Jeremy Fleming, Director GCHQ.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace commented: "The National Cyber Force is a joint Defence and GCHQ capability, giving the UK a world class ability to conduct cyber operations."

"The NCF is bolstering our global presence in the cyber domain, and it is a clear example of how we are turning our ambitious agenda to modernise defence into a reality."

NCF has apparently been operating secretly since April, with multiple experts from GCHQ, MI6 and the armed forces based at GCHQ's headquarters at Cheltenham; the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) at Porton Down; and various other military sites around the country.

The formal announcement, however, came on Thursday, as the Prime Minister unveiled a new £16.5bn defence spending scheme, some of which will also go towards creating a Space Command and an agency dedicated to artificial intelligence.

According to Johnson, the main responsibility of Space Command will be to "protect the UK's interests in space" and to ensure that the country successfully launches the first British rocket from Scotland in 2022.

As part of the £16.5bn budget, the government also plans to acquire a new fighter system equipped with drone and AI technology.